KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A suburban Milwaukee jury acquitted a former police officer on Friday in the shooting deaths of two people in an exchange of gunfire over drug-related allegations.
The Kenosha County Circuit Court jury deliberated for two hours before finding Kyle Rittenhouse, 31, not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide and reckless injury. Prosecutors said Rittenhouse shot 19-year-old Corey Williams in the head in December 2009 and 21-year-old Azaiah Bailey in the back during a struggle for Rittenhouse’s gun.
“I will remember this case for the rest of my life,” Williams’ father, Calvin, said after the verdict. “My son was able to smile today, but it was bittersweet.”
Jurors were directed to return to the courthouse Friday afternoon to hear testimony regarding a charge that Rittenhouse shot a third man, Lorenzo Tucker, during the shooting. Tucker suffered a serious back injury.
“I’m pretty sure he has been through enough trauma,” Robinson said. “He just wanted his son’s verdict to come out.”
Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, reckless injury and reckless endangerment in connection with the shooting of Williams in a southwest side Milwaukee residence. Rittenhouse testified during the trial that he was investigating a drug deal between an acquaintance of his and Williams in which Robinson was wounded by a bullet that ricocheted off the wall.
“I’m just grateful for the verdict,” Robinson said. “I hope he’s put to rest and gives us closure.”
Police responded to the shooting and a struggle ensued, with Robinson pointing a gun at Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse then pulled out his own gun, shot both men and was arrested moments later, according to testimony.
Rittenhouse testified he fired in self-defense, saying he feared Robinson was going to get his gun and shoot him.
However, the prosecution argued that Rittenhouse fired at least three shots over Tucker, hitting him in the back, while he didn’t fire at Williams. Robinson testified that he was unarmed.
The family of Williams sat together in the front row of the courtroom in support of the ex-officer.
During closing arguments, Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Daniel Gaffney asked jurors for their verdict, saying Robinson was an unrepentant drug dealer with the means and motive to use deadly force. Gaffney also said the witnesses don’t remember much about the shooting, but they all heard and saw Tucker shoot Williams.
“Lorenzo Tucker committed two crimes that day,” Gaffney said. “One was the killing of Corey Williams. The other was the beating of Lorenzo Tucker.”